4th Aug 2010 •
The myth and mystery of the Medicine Hat horse goes back many, many years. The Medicine Hat horse is a special animal, supposed to have special powers, and is very rare. They have been immortalized in stories like in Marguerite Henry’s book ‘San Domingo’, which was also honored by a Breyer model and a motion picture.
But what is a Medicine Hat horse? Basically, it’s a pinto horse, but one with a very specific marking. The horse is almost entirely white, but has a colored patch covering the ears and the top of the head. A Medicine Hat can have other markings, but the less they have the more powerful they were believed to be. It is sometimes mistakenly believed that a Medicine Hat also had to have certain other markings, such as a spot over its chest (a ‘shield’), but in reality the most prized Medicine Hats were all white except for the poll marking. The distinguishing head markings are what makes up the ‘medicine hat’, or ‘war bonnet’. Medicine Hats often have pink muzzles, and those with one or more blue eyes are especially prized.
The mythology of the Medicine Hat horse is steeped in Native American tradition and legend. A Medicine Hat horse is believed to have a magical ability to protect its rider from injury or death in battle, and were thought to have special abilities to warn their riders of danger and to find wild game hiding in forests or canyons. The mainly white coats were often decorated with other magical symbols, believed to increase the horse’s powers.
Tribes would try and steal the Medicine Hat horse of another tribe, believing that in doing so they would have the horse’s good luck, and steal the good luck of the other tribe. A Medicine Hat horse was closely guarded by a tribe, and was a central part of a very complicated belief system the horse was much more than a ‘good luck charm’.
Are there Medicine Hat horses today? Of course the ‘medicine hat’ marking can still occur, and is found in pintos of almost any breed, although it is still most common in Mustangs and their close relations, the Spanish Barb. That said, Einstein, the newly born tiny foal getting a lot of attention for his small size, is also just about a Medicine Hat, as is his pony mother.
Are they magical? Who knows? There is certainly something special about these horses. It may just be that they have such striking and unusual markings, but it may be something more. If when you see one, you sense something magical, then maybe you’ll know!
This article was inspired by my own fantastic event horse, Bronze, who – like most eventers – is eating a lot of high-energy food, and doing a lot of work. Basically, Bronze is a machine, and his main operating function is to bear down on a course of big, solid jumps like a freight train and jump clear inside the time.
When it comes to the dressage functi . . .
"What’re we gonna do with ‘em?" One man asked, turning to the rider beside him with a sneer. "The mare’s a goner, just leave her there." Came his companion’s callous reply. "Take the colt, though. He’s sure to fetch something."
"Right you are, Sir." The first man replied, tipping his hat with a gesture of mock respect, a cruel bark of laughter escaping hi . . .
The question I pose to you today is a sensitive one, but one that all of us will inevitably face at some point in our riding careers: when is it okay to quit?
Those of you who know me will know that I’m a firm believer in a ‘never say die’ and ‘never give up’ kind of attitude. I don’t believe in giving up on a problem horse because it is too difficult, an . . .
The weekend of April 20th saw my official showjumping debut for 2013. Since the South African Junior Championships in December, my horses were given a well deserved holiday, before slowly building back up to competition standard.
Finola already had one jumping show under her belt, and both she and Bronze had attended their first event of the year, but ev . . .
This is the first article in my new series, ‘Ask Polo’. In this series, I will be addressing equine problems mentioned by players, and giving suggestions to assist in solving their problems in article format.
Today’s problem was posed by Ponybox player ‘Bright Horizon’. . . .
I did my best to avoid the instances that encouraged rearing – but if you look above, you’ll see that it’s quite a list, and that there are many aspects that you just CAN’T avoid when riding a competitive horse. The main thing I did with him, is kept all my sessions short, but effective. I found that if I rode him for more than 45 minutes, he would just comp . . .
He was nearly five years old now – a late age to geld – so he was left with the thick neck and muscular build of a stallion, which of course was delightful. He was always an eye-catching horse, and attracted attention wherever I took him. Many people stubbornly refused to believe that he was a Thoroughbred, but insisted that Bronze simply HAD to be a Warmblo . . .
We were up at the crack of dawn. Packed and ready by 5:30AM, we hit the road and drove off to pick up the Bronze horse. Finola was driving up to champs in a float with my jumping instructor – so we had only one horse to prep for the journey.
Knowing that we were late and not caring in the slightest, Bronze made a rare bid for freedom when he saw me coming . . .
Every little girl has a dream. To be swept off her feet by a charming knight in shining armour on a big white horse, and have him kneel down before her, take her hand, kiss her cheek, and whatever other secret, romantic fantasy her little heart desires. Unfortunately, for some little girls, the world can kind of a wad about the whole ‘charming knight’ thing, . . .